China identifies new virus causing pneumonia-like illness

Grant Boone
January 11, 2020

Public Health England (PHE) is monitoring the situation with worldwide partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

A 61-year-old man has died from pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in an outbreak of a yet to be identified virus while seven others are in critical condition, the Wuhan health authorities said on Saturday.

Chinese health officials have moved to shut down a number of open air markets and other public meeting places identified as epicenters for the virus, fearing they would aid in spreading it to other parts of the country. An official with China's transportation ministry says the agency will begin efforts to disinfect public transportation stations and cargo hubs to prevent the spread of the virus. According to the researchers, who detected the new virus in 15 of the people who became ill, the coronavirus "is different from previous human coronaviruses that were previously discovered, and more scientific research is needed for further understanding". Twenty-one of those patients have since been discharged, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority said Wednesday.

Health officials in Hong Kong say as many as 38 people have been hospitalized in recent days after returning from Wuhan with flu or pneumonia-like symptoms.

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A Chinese woman who works for a South Korean company was diagnosed Tuesday with pneumonia, according to the Korea Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said.

The World Health Organisation said on Thursday that a newly emerging member of the family of viruses that caused the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreaks, could be the cause of the present outbreak. About 2,500 lab-confirmed cases have been reported, including more than 800 deaths, with cases continuing to be seen in recent years.

The CDC this week also advised US travellers going to Wuhan to avoid animals and sick people and wash their hands often.

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